The dying man summoned the priest to his bedside. “Give me some consolation please Father, if you can. I do not have long, and my suffering is great.”
“Well”, said Father, looking hard at his breviary, then glancing into the man’s eyes. “I have both good news, and bad news to tell you”.
At the sound of the words about bad news, the patient’s face folded, but he was a brave man, so he said “Give me the bad news first then, please, Father”.
“I’m afraid there is nothing you can do now to attain eternal life, it is but a gift”, said the clergyman, gravely.
The suffering man’s face crumpled further. Tears started to flow. His life replayed to him behind closed lids. All those sins, all those lost opportunities to do good. He would have liked to be a Holy person, but he had been too weak, too distracted, too worldly for too long.
Eventually he recovered himself from his pit of self pity, opened his eyes and saw the priest was looking at him intensely. “You said there was good news also?” he asked.
“Oh yes!” said Father with a joyous gleam in his eyes.
“I’m afraid there is nothing you can do now to attain eternal life, it is but a GIFT“.
“Now let me pass the GIFT on to you”.
And with that, he heard the man’s Confession, gave him Viaticum and administered Extreme Unction.
The man died shortly later, peacefully, and smiling through his agony, united with Jesus.